By David Sedeño
The Texas Catholic
PLANO—Msgr. Jim Balint, a military veteran and chaplain, teacher and founding pastor of Prince of Peace Catholic Church and retired priest of the Diocese of Dallas, died March 22 from injuries suffered in a car accident while on vacation. He was 85.
Hundreds of friends, former students and parishioners gathered at Prince of Peace Catholic Church on March 28 for a vigil and hundreds more—many wearing red as requested many years ago by Msgr. Balint—filled the sanctuary the following day for the funeral Mass that was celebrated by Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, and concelebrated by dozens of Msgr. Balint’s fellow priests in the diocese.
“Father Jim was a great priest, and an outstanding pastor and it is fitting that we all come together now not in sadness but in the hope that he now rests with God Almighty,” Bishop Farrell said at the beginning of the Mass. “He served for so many years, in so many different capacities and I thank you for being here and for traveling this journey with Father Jim.”
One of Msgr. Balint’s closest friends was a former U.S. Air Force chaplain who later became the bishop of Grand Isle, Neb. The Most Rev. William Dendinger, now bishop emeritus of that diocese, delivered the homily at the funeral Mass.
He remembered Msgr. Balint as an avid reader, conversationalist, world traveler, and competitor whose love for Christ never waned. He told stories about how Msgr. Balint loved his family and the Prince of Peace community. He asked those in attendance to pray for each other during the grieving process, but to never forget Christ’s love.
And while many have their own recollections of Msgr. Balint, Bishop Dendinger said he would always remember his dear friend through some of the words found in Micah 6:8.
“He always felt that our legacy was to walk humbly, love tenderly and do justice,” Bishop Dendinger said. “That’s the legacy I will think of Father Jim, despite all of the marvelous spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical things he has done.”
Msgr. Balint was born on May 6, 1930, in Yonkers, N.Y. He graduated from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1951. In 1954, he entered the U.S. Air Force and left in 1956 with the rank of first lieutenant.
He began theological studies at CUA that same year and in 1961, he was ordained a priest for the then-Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth. His first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Luke Catholic Church in Irving. He also taught religion and mathematics at Jesuit College Preparatory High School from 1963-67.
His dedication to military service continued, as he was commissioned as a chaplain to the Texas National Guard, in 1963, serving with the 136th Air Defense Wing at Hensley Air National Guard Base in Grand Prairie. In 1966, he re-entered active duty as an Air Force chaplain and for the next 14 years served in bases throughout the world.
Msgr. Balint retired with the rank of colonel in May 1985 and returned to the Diocese of Dallas later that year. He served first as associate pastor at All Saints Catholic Church in Dallas, before being appointed in December 1990 as the founding pastor of the Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Plano.
At a retirement dinner in 2010, Msgr. Balint talked about his love for the Prince of Peace community, the school children and the privilege of his Catholic faith.
“Sunday Mass for me has been the golden moment, not just the liturgy, but the time that I can meet with the people and share with the people,” he said.
Even in retirement, Msgr. Balint continued to celebrate Mass regularly throughout the diocese, including at school Masses at Prince of Peace and at John Paul II High School.
Msgr. Balint is survived by his sisters, Margaret Murray, Bernice Flynn, and Judith Fasano, all of Cape Cod, Mass., and Mary Lou Blute, of Plano; brothers, Andrew Balint of Yonkers, N.Y., and Vincent Balint of Fairfield, Calif.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family requested donations to honor Msgr. Balint could be made either to Prince of Peace Catholic Church’s sister parish in Las Mercedes in Honduras, John Paul II High School, 900 Coit Rd., Plano, Texas, 75075, or Prince of Peace Catholic Church.